Why Should I Trust The Canon?
Glenn Miller

    Why should I place any trust on the Canon when Canonicity itself is questionable with regard to certainty and even integrity? (why, for example, should I believe that a book is the word of God just because a bunch of priests and laymen came together at Niece, Chalchedon and wherever else, in order to decide on such matters?)
    The question of canonicity is a bit more complex than that, and I am trying to write a piece explaining that issue. It is not as "odd" as it first appears, once you look at it from God's perspective instead of ours. A very brief overview (albeit VERY simplistic) goes like this.

    Imagine that God (1) has inspired a select number of pieces of literature and that (2) He is constrained by His operating principles to NOT be 'spectacular' or "hyper-public" in His revealing of that list of literature. (In other words, He cannot carve the list of books on a mountain somewhere, use sky-writing to force it on us, or suppress wholesale the production of malignant counter-revelation pieces by the Enemy.) How could He get a community of His people to recognize this list? One of the more obviously effective ways would be to 'move from within' (via the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers-only) the community, such that leaders and laity alike 'recognized' the inspired quality of these works. Certain books would be favored by some (e.g. if it spoke more urgently to THEIR situation and interests) and other books would be favored by still others (e.g. speaking to DIFFERENT urgencies and issues in THEIR lives.) The result would be discussion over the whole mass of possible books (but with the obviously heretical ones being rejected by the vast majority), and with SOME 'persuasion' going on. We would typically agree on a majority of the books (that spoke of more common interests), but might disagree on those that touched the different and individual concerns (e.g. eschatology, Jewish-Christian communities). The councils would accordingly NOT be 'decision making' bodies, but solely 'representative' recognition bodies, expressing what the church at large had experienced of God's communication. This group would only be a communication/"rubber stamping" kind of function--and not an 'innovator' in any sense of the word.

    Thus the various "canons" delineated by any of the Church Fathers or councils functioned only as a 'consensus
statement'--NOT as a 'new policy/edict announcement'. As noted above, these Christians and the entire  ommunity were created by these messages from God--and NOT vice versa. Jesus spoke to Paul--converting Him--and THEN Paul wrote the message down. Jesus revealed His message to the apostles--converting them--and THEN they wrote the message down. These written messages (as the word of God themselves--cf. I Thess 2.13: And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.), then created the churches (e.g. Thessalonica), who then could only acknowledge the word which gave them birth (cf. Jas 1.18: 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. and I Peter 1.23: For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.)

    Once again, then, we must give the centuries of saints the 'benefit of the doubt'--for God was just as interested in them getting the 'list correct' as He is getting US to! Accordingly, we should approach the matter with some level of respect for the labors of the past--WITHOUT assuming that they were perfect. But this gives us a more than adequate starting point for study--the books agreed on by all the branches of the church by the end of the 7-10th centuries.